Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of healthy US citizens in foreign countries. Nigeria has one of the highest number of road traffic accidents in the world. Travel in Nigeria may be significantly different from your home country in the following ways:
- In Nigeria, cars, buses, large trucks, rickshaws (known here as Keke NAPEP/Marwa), bikes, people on foot, often share the same lanes of traffic, especially in rural areas. This increases the risk for crashes.
- Roads in Nigeria are often under-maintained. Potholes make the roads more difficult to navigate.
- Emergency services outside Lagos and Abuja are sparse, so in the event of an accident, emergency response maybe delayed or nonexistent. The following tips in line with recommendations from the CDC will help you stay safe on Lagos roads:
- Choose a safe vehicle
- Choose official taxis or public transportation, such as trains and buses. Uber and Taxify are the most popular ride-sharing apps; available in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
- Ride only in cars that have seatbelts.
- Avoid overcrowded, overloaded, top-heavy buses and minivans.
- Avoid riding on motorcycles or motorbikes, especially motorbike taxis (known in Nigeria as Okada). Many crashes are caused by inexperienced motorbike drivers.
- Choose newer vehicles—They may have more safety features, such as airbags, and are more reliable.
- Choose larger vehicles, which may provide more protection in crashes.
- Think about the driver
Do not drive after drinking alcohol or ride with someone who has been drinking. Some drivers in Nigeria drink a traditional alcohol drink that they believe increases their concentration when driving. This is very unsafe. If you suspect your driver has been drinking, politely request an alternative driver. Consider hiring a licensed, trained driver familiar with the area
- Follow basic safety tips
- Wear a seatbelt at all times.
- Sit in the back seat of cars and taxis.
- When on motorbikes or bicycles, always wear a helmet. (Bring a helmet from home, if needed.)
- Avoid driving at night; street lighting in certain parts of Nigeria may be poor, plus security risks are increased especially outside Lagos and Abuja.
- Do not use a cellphone or text while driving, this is dangerous and illegal in Nigeria
- Travel during daylight hours only, especially in rural areas. If you choose to drive a vehicle in Nigeria, learn the local traffic laws and have the proper paperwork including 3rd party insurance which can be purchased online on websites like https://myautogenius.com/ Get any driving permits and insurance you may need. Get an International Driving Permit (IDP). Carry the IDP, and a US-issued driver’s license at all times. However, after a few months in Nigeria, you will need to obtain a Nigerian driver’s license.
To read and also download our e-book – A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE FOR EXPATS COMING TO LIVE IN NIGERIA, click here.
The Flying Doctors Nigeria is a member of the British Safety Council that specializes in providing medical solutions such as air ambulance and medical evacuation, ground ambulance procurement and leasing, remote medical services such a medical staffing, online company clinic set-up, site clinic management, occupational health, medical evacuation insurance and other health consultancy services for the oil & gas industry as well as other corporate, military and non-governmental organizations.
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